Reflection on Eloi, Eloi, Lema Sabachthani

Reflection on Mark 15:33-34

At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) (NIV)

At this point in the crucifixion of our Lord, at noon, the sky darkens. We can imagine the surprise of those who are watching. Heavy clouds hang low in the sky. The sun is blotted out, and our Lord, experiences the suffering of all humanity. All the physical pain of illness, all of the anguish of failure, all of the sorrow of lost love, all of the shame of rejection, all of the punishment for our sins. Christ understands it all. Jesus feels it all and expresses in one short sentence, the despair of all humanity, the feeling of abandonment, and cries out…

“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

In that moment all the doubts, all the fears, all of the horrible feelings that wrench at the gut, wrench at mind, wrench at the soul in times of trouble are expressed and lifted up to God.

And yet what Christ knew and what we know is this line of Aramaic, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” is from the 22nd Psalm. And though this Psalm begins in despair, it ends with a song praising the Lord, telling us that all of this suffering will be swept away, that we will be redeemed. The last line of the psalm is “He has done it!” Indeed, in this act of suffering on the cross, Jesus Christ has redeemed us all.

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